Going Paperless: Creating Virtual Scrapbooks Using Evernote

I imagine that nearly everyone has tried to keep a scrapbook of some kind at some point in their life. Maybe it was to collect ticket stubs for concerts or sporting events. Maybe it was for vacations or family photos. When I first started writing, I kept a scrapbook of my rejection letters, and later, after I was published, I kept a scrapbook of my publications. But scrapbooks take up room on shelves. They can be damaged by the elements or by wear and tear. It seems to me that Evernote is as good a place as any to keep and maintain “virtual” scrapbooks. So this week, I’ll discuss four types of virtual scrapbooks you can keep in Evernote (there are, of course, countless types) and I’ll talk about some of the ways I manage my scrapbooks.

My Bibliography Scrapbook

One thing I’ve been doing for a while now is keeping a virtual scrapbook of all of my “tear sheets.” Basically, for each story or article that I publish, I grab the cover of the magazine or book in which it appeared, the table of contents, and the page on which my story appeared, and I stick each of these images into a note for that particular publication. The result is a neat little scrapbook of all of my publications.



I’ll use this scrapbook to collect reviews on my stories as they are called out to me by friends1. I’ll also jot down notes about the publication history of the stories in this scrapbook as well. The note create dates are set to the publication date of the story or article, so it makes a convenient reference and bibliography, as well.

My Kids’ Artwork Scrapbook

More and more, my kids bring home artwork from their respective schools. We make much of this on the day they bring them home, but then the art tended to find its way into a little basket atop the refrigerator and collect dust. It occurred to me a while a go that Evernote was the perfect solution for capturing the art for posterity, and so I began scanning for photographing the art and collecting it in an artwork scrapbook.


There are a couple of things I do here:

  • If the art is flat and on normal-sized paper or smaller, I’ll scan it.
  • If the art is on larger paper, or has a 3-dimensional aspect to it (macaroni pasted onto the page), I’ll take a photo.
  • I give the art simple titles.
  • I set the create date to the date the art was brought home.
  • I tag the art with the artist’s name. This allows me to search for art by one or the other.
  • Occasionally, I’ll add some notes about the work. Usually this comes from the Little Man, when he describes how the teacher helped him, or why they were making the art in the first place. (“It’s for Independence Day!”)

This allows for a nice little historic progression of their abilities, to say nothing of preserving their creations for future (and previous2) to admire.

Family Vacation Scrapbook

Back in December, we went on a big 3-week long family vacation. We drove from Virginia down to Florida, where we spend 3 days at Disney World with the kids before continuing down to their Grandparent’s house for an additional 10 days. After the vacation, I began3 putting together a scrapbook of our journey and I’m building it in Evernote.

There are all kinds of things you can collect in a vacation scrapbook beyond just the typical photos:

  • Ticket stubs.
  • Menus from places you ate4.
  • Receipts.
  • Annotated maps.

For instance, included in my vacation scrapbook are the maps of each of the days of our journey from Virginia down to Florida:

Orlando Day 1


One thing I do with a scrapbook like this: rather than move a note from its existing place, I’ll often simply copy the note to the scrapbook. True, I now have two copies, but this allows me to maintain my existing searches and filing system. The scrapbooks become ornamental. It also allows me to maintain a separate mini-timeline of the vacation. This can be useful when planning future vacations.

Baby Scrapbook

We were pretty bad at maintaining a traditional “baby book.” But one thing I’ve been doing, for both of my kids, is reconstructing “virtual” baby scrapbooks from the vast array of notes I have in Evernote. I’ve written before about how I put a lot of my kids’ milestones in my Timeline notebook. So I know not only their first words, but when they were spoken. I know when their first day of school was. Their first doctor appointment, play date, or baseball game.

So I’ve been taking all of these notes and creating virtual baby books for my kids. From ultrasound images before they were born, right down to the present day, I’ve been collecting notes. I’ve got baby footprints and photos. And I’ve got lots of milestones. These are easy to find: simply skim through any baby book and you’ll discover a wealth of milestones to capture.

Tips and Tools for Managing My Virtual Scrapbooks

In putting these scrapbooks together, I’ve discovered a few tips. Here are a few that I’ve found particularly useful:

  • Use one notebook per scrapbook.
  • Create a “Scrapbook” notebook stack and put all of your scrapbooks in this stack to avoid clutter.
  • If you are looking for a more realistic scrapbook “layout” to your virtual pages, use Penultimate to layout your page and then send that page to Evernote and move the note into your scrapbook.
  • I avoid tags in my scrapbook, unless they are for something like indicating who made the artwork.
  • If moving a note into a scrapbook will mess up my organization system, I’ll copy the note instead of moving it. This ensures that my existing searches and organizational schema will still work.
  • Have fun creating the scrapbooks! Let your imagination run wild.
  • Because the scrapbooks are in their own notebook, you can share the entire scrapbook with friends and family by sharing the notebook.

If you have suggestions for a future Going Paperless post, let me hear it. Send me an email at feedback [at] jamietoddrubin dot com. As always, this post and all of my Going Paperless posts, is also available on Pinterest.

  1. I generally don’t go looking for reviews for my own stories, but I look at them when friends point them out to me.
  2. i.e., Grandparents.
  3. I am still working on it, as time permits.
  4. Evernote Food can make this a little easier because you can copy those notes into your scrapbook.


  1. This is a great idea! However, my concern is what happens to all these memory notes if Evernote went away? I know they say they plan on being a hundred year old company, but no one can be certain. I wish there was a way I could back up the notes to a hard drive using JPEG or PDF files from Evernote. I understand you can export notes using HTML…but I don’t know if that’s feasible as from my understanding it’s only accessible through the internet. Maybe I’m wrong here?

    I do believe Evernote is the best tool to organize these timeline events, but just want to make sure it’s available when my kids are older and want access to their special childhood memories.


    1. Ben, I’ve written about this elsewhere, but what I do is this: I do a monthly export of all my notes to an EXEN file. The file itself is simply an XML file with all of the note information, including attachments. I compress the file and then copy it to a location where it will be picked up by my cloud backup service. It takes me 5 minutes each month to do this and ensures that if Evernote ever went away, I’d still be able to recover all of my notes. I do this as part of my standard backup process, not because I’m worried Evernote will go away. But I have tested a restore of archived data and it works perfectly–the only caveat is that is restores all notes to a single “Archive” local notebook (which makes sense: you don’t want to overwrite existing notes).

    2. Ben,
      Backing up by exporting to HTML works great. You do not need to be on the internet to access the files, the HTML is stored on a folder on your computer and any browser can read the files. The great thing about it is that Evernote export creates an HTML index with live links to each HTML page of your notes, so they are easy to find and access, if you needed to.

  2. I make scrapbooks of special occasions/trips as well. Or any really big event. It’s fun to put all of the pictures, notes, journal entries, etc. into one package so that you can review the memory another time.

    And it is very easy to print a notebook to pdf, to export it to html, etc., there are ways to archive it outside of Evernote’s system.

  3. Perfect timing! My son’s preschool wants to do a keepsake book & I was thinking there must be a way to do it in Evernote. It would probably be a great way to collaborate on it too. I’d like to know more about exporting a notebook to pdf since they will ultimately want to print it out…or maybe this will give people a digital option!

  4. Your data is always copied to your computer if you use the desktop client.

    If you use local notebooks these don’t get copied to the cloud so should your computer die you will lose them

    The way to get a complete backup is to locate the .exb files Evernote uses


    explains the whole process. That way you get a complete replica of your setup, local files and searches etc backed up.

    If you export and reimport you could end up duplicating things.

  5. Love the Family Vacation Scrapbook idea!

    Are you taking screenshots of the maps? Can you explain this a little more?

    I have a box full of ticket stubs, menus, etc., from various vacations but haven’t had the time to make a “true” scrapbook. Would love to follow your idea…

  6. For a few years now I’ve been trying to put together a photo book of a study board trip I took and trying to shift through a month’s worth of photos/postcards/etc is always a daunting task. I wish I had Evernote back then and it might have been easier and probably wouldn’t have taken me so long to finish it. Its one of those things that you want to do but gets easily pushed to the wayside when things get busy.

    This now gives me inspiration to work on it again. Now when I have a moment I can create a couple of pages at a time. I’ll be able to better track what pictures I’ve picked out and edited which will help to transfer it to my graphics software to lay it out for a photo book.

    BTW been following your Evernote tips for a while. They are always so helpful in making me think of other ways to expand my usage of Evernote. Thank you 🙂

  7. I like the bibliography scrapbook idea. I am on my campus newspaper, and it would be nice to be able to gather this info in a way that I could then export it in a sharable format for when I apply to grad school.

    Could also be used for a way to backup research reports in a standardized way for when I apply to grad school.

    Any good export ideas?

  8. Hi, just wondering about the benefits of copying the notes to a separate notebook? I like to keep my number of notebooks minimal – all my kids artworks etc I just tag with their names and then with ‘art’ so I can bring them up whenever – but I only have one copy in my ‘filing cabinet’ notebook. Am I missing something that would be a benefit if I put them in a notebook of their own?


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